Reader OMG! – Erica’s Light and Bright Chicago Townhome

Reader OMG! is a series showcasing home tours from my favorite people…The DIY Playbook readers! Every month or so, I highlight the home of someone with some serious design style. I hope that these swoon-worthy spaces will make you say “OMG”…hence the name! It also gives me a chance to feature home styles outside of my own, so you can take away some fresh ideas for your space.Reader OMG blog series

So far we’ve featured five amazing homes in the series…

Erica’s Chicago Townhome Erica's Reader OMG!

  • Homeowners: Erica & Chris (and their dog, Shelby)
  • Location: University Village in Chicago, IL
  • Home Type: Townhome
  • Year Built: 1990s
  • Describe your Home Style: I guess if I had to come up with a name for my “style” it would be, “Eclectic Minimalism”? I know that’s a bit of an oxymoron, but let me explain. I love simplistic design – clean lines and a white canvas. These minimalistic elements serve as great building blocks for some fun and unique styling pieces (which is where the eclectic part comes in). Hunting for unique antiques and collecting mementos from our travels makes me so happy.
  • Favorite Spot in your House: The bay window in our main living area. In the mornings, especially on the weekends, I love to sit here with a cup of coffee for just a few moments of peace before my day gets started. It’s also a great place to sip on a glass of red wine in the evenings in the wintertime. Seeing the snow on the trees just outside the windows is always so peaceful. AND the chairs in the bay window were Chris’ great-grandmother’s which makes them extra special.
Erica's light and bright Chicago townhome

I was so excited when Erica’s submission popped up in my inbox because it was full of the most inspiring before and after photos. She and her husband purchased the townhome back in 2017 and they’ve put in so much work. I included the before photos in today’s post because it shows you just how far their Chicago townhome has come in such a short amount of time. Not to mention, that those before photos are what you see a lot of when home shopping in the city of Chicago. So why not take one of those dated homes and make it exactly what you want it to be?!

That’s exactly what Erica and Chris did here. Let’s take a look around.

Entryway/Living Room

Living room beforeChicago townhome with DIY built-ins

Living room with built-in shelvesBlack light fixtureLight and bright filled living room

Paint Color: Behr “Falling Snow”

Their home has three levels (plus, the rooftop) and this is the bottom level where you walk in off the garage or from the front door. I love that you’re greeted with such a light and bright scene! The couple added IKEA cabinets and bookshelves to create their own budget-friendly built-ins in this room (following this tutorial). You guys know how much I love built-ins (especially since we’re in the middle of our project!), and I was so excited to see these. The large black light fixture in here is perfect because it doesn’t distract from the awesome built-ins.

Erica told me she is always trying to get the designer look for less and that’s how she came up with the plan for the ottoman in this room. She was obsessed with these ottomans from Amber Interiors, but they start at $3,000. She ended up reupholstering her ottoman with patterned mud cloth fabric from Etsy and replacing the legs with these brass ones. It cost about $75 total and looks incredible.  Oh, and another big money saver in this room? They found all of the furniture at a garage sale!


Kitchen beforeDIY kitchen in a Chicago townhome

Black and white kitchen

Muffins on a kitchen countertop

Paint Color: Benjamin Moore “Super White”

It’s hard to believe that this is the same space…but it is!! Before, there was a big wall cutting off the kitchen from the rest of this grand space. They had a contractor take the wall down to make one big open floor plan and create the kitchen of their dreams. While they hired out the work for this project, they cut costs by sourcing and ordering all of the products themselves. This black and white kitchen is anything but boring. I mean, how about that backsplash behind the stove?! The pattern on that tile is killer. And the open shelves allow for the cutest styling moments. Oh, and those pendant lights may look familiar. They’re the same ones I had in our master bathroom from our old condo!

Dining Room

dining room beforeDining room in a Chicago townhome

Gallery wall in a dining room
Polaroid picture bowl
Dining room credenza

Dark blue accent wall with wallpaperOld school record playerDining room accessories

Paint Color: Sherwin Williams “Olympus White”; Sherwin Williams “Naval”

The couple does a lot of entertaining and I couldn’t picture a better space for it (especially when you live in the city!). The grand dining table is actually an old family piece and they purchased these dining chairs and this slipcovered bench to go around it. I have two favorite areas in this room. The gallery wall above the cabinets (from IKEA) is exquisite. It is so beautifully done and it’s filled with unique and special art. Below it, you’ll find a bowl full of old historic family photos. On the opposite wall is my other favorite area…the navy wallpaper! Erica installed the plain textured wallpaper and then painted it navy and hung this inexpensive wall map. It makes such a bold statement in here and looks great with the console and record player beneath it.

Family Room

family-room-beforeFamily room with gray sectional

Living room fireplace
Gray sectional in a family room
Bookshelves and accessories
Chairs in a living room

Paint Color: Sherwin Williams “Olympus White”

I gasped when I walked up the stairs and into this room because it’s sooooo big! Talk about space! That large sectional fits there easily and they have room for other seating (like the special chairs that were Chris’ great-grandmother’s). The two wanted to add built-ins to the little niche but instead added beadboard wallpaper and long white shelves for a similar look. What a great way to add some storage for a fraction of the cost of built-ins. They also shiplapped the fireplace wall themselves (this blog post walks you through the steps to get a similar look).

Powder RoomPowder room makeover

Powder room makeoverPowder room DIY project

This little powder room got quite the makeover. It’s funny because Erica told me they tried to do it on a whim the weekend before having friends over for NYE. They didn’t end up finishing the space until 3 months later because the sink broke, the wallpaper was backordered, and more crazy shenanigans happened. See, everyone runs into trouble when DIY’ing in their homes! Just gotta push through and you can end up with an adorable powder room like this one.

Erica used the same beadboard wallpaper from the family room and then installed this geometric wallpaper on the top, with a thin chair rail lip separating the two. They actually painted the floor tile. It was previously brown and instead of re-tiling, they painted it white with primer and then a porch & patio floor paint! Erica says it has held up great.  So many of you raved about the vanity when I gave a peek on Instagram and for good reason. It’s adorable! They found it at Menards and sadly it’s no longer available (but here’s a link to the faucet). The fun light, mirror, and accessories really bring this space to life. It’s so fun!

Guest BedroomGuest bedroomRattan chest and hat Accent chair in a guest roomArt over a bed

This is a small guest room, but they really did maximize the space in here with the hanging lights and shelves as nightstands. The bed looks incredibly comfy and I adore the leather chair vignette. What a great spot for guests to unwind.

Master Bedroom

Master bedroom in a Chicago townhome
Master bedroom with navy accent wall
Lake Geneva art

Paint Color: Sherwin Williams “Gray Screen”; Sherwin Williams “Naval”

Erica is at it again with painted wallpaper…this time as an accent wall behind their king-sized bed. It’s the same navy from the accent wall in the dining room (always a good idea to carry colors and themes throughout your home to keep it cohesive!). Those inexpensive sconces may be my favorite part of the room. But I also love the special touches she added in here. The photo over the bed is actually an artsy wedding photo of Lake Geneva (where the couple got married).

Rooftopchicago rooftop

Obviously, it was way too chilly for me to take pictures of their rooftop. But I’m so happy Erica had some photos to share from last summer. I mean, how about this space?! Outdoor space is a hot commodity here in Chicago and this large rooftop is to die for! I love the contemporary furniture (the sectional is great!) and how about that view of the skyline (and the Sears Tower)?! Breathtaking. Plus, the couple DIY’ed the large wood dining table!

Shop Erica’s Chicago Townhome

Erica's Chicago townhome

Faux Fiddle Leaf // Leather Pillow // Upholstered Bed // X Pillow // Neutral Rug // Blanket Ladder // Turkish Rug Pillow // Black Light Fixture // Backsplash Tile // Cane Chair // Slipcovered Bench // Wall Map // Basket Trio

Erica's townhomeA big thank you to Erica for inviting us all into her gorgeous home. I’m so impressed with the love and hard work they’ve put into their Chicago townhome. It’s a gorgeous spot for their little family. You can follow Erica on Instagram at “chitownhouse.” She has lots of behind-the-scenes looks at these projects in her highlights.

Chicago townhome

Submit Your Home for Reader OMG!Reader OMG blog series

Want to see your home featured on The DIY Playbook? Send an email to [email protected] with the subject line “Reader OMG!”, including lots of photos of your gorgeous home. I would love to feature homes outside of the Chicagoland area, so submit no matter where you live! I’ll be able to hire a local photographer to come capture pictures of your space.


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.

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